The Washington Free Beacon is now reporting that former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel’s name is being eased out of consideration for the Secretary of Defense position.
The article quotes sources saying that Hagel’s hard stance against Israel has possibly fatally hurt his chances for the nomination.
That is rough for Hagel, but he no doubt was willing to take that chance with those positions. Politics is a tough world, and Hagel was willing to mix it up.
But the Free Beacon also had comments from former Senate staffers that made us shake our heads:
“Yes, Hagel has crazy positions on several key issues. Yes, Hagel has said things that are borderline anti-Semitism. Yes, Hagel wants to gut the Pentagon’s budget. But above all, he’s not a nice person and he’s bad to his staff,” said a senior Republican Senate aide who has close ties to former Hagel staffers.
“Hagel was known for turning over staff every few weeks—within a year’s time he could have an entirely new office because nobody wanted to work for him,” said the source. “You have to wonder how a man who couldn’t run a Senate office is going to be able to run an entire bureaucracy.”
Others familiar with Hagel’s 12 year tenure in the Senate said he routinely intimidated staff and experienced frequent turnover.
“Chuck Hagel may have been collegial to his Senate colleagues but he was the Cornhusker wears Prada to his staff, some of whom describe their former boss as perhaps the most paranoid and abusive in the Senate, one who would rifle through staffers desks and berate them for imagined disloyalty,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq. “He might get away with that when it comes to staffers in their 20s, but that sort of personality is going to go over like a ton of bricks at the Pentagon.”
Multiple sources corroborated this view of Hagel.
“As a manager, he was angry, accusatory, petulant,” said one source familiar with his work on Capitol Hill. “He couldn’t keep his staff.”
“I remember him accusing one of his staffers of being ‘f—ing stupid’ to his face,” recalled the source who added that Hagel typically surrounded himself with those “who basically hate Republicans.”
Now we have heard a lot of things about Hagel: tough boss; demanding; high expectations.
But any of those things were ALWAYS followed up with notes that with staff he was gracious, appreciative and respectful.
We have never heard, from any of Hagel’s former staff, anything like what was mentioned above.
And we would follow up by saying that we don’t know of any Hagel staffers who “hate Republicans”. That is a really very goofy statement in and of itself and is not characteristic of the world on Capitol Hill anyway.
When this article came out today, a former Hagel staffer emailed us and had this to say:
Senator Hagel had a number of long-serving and very loyal employees in his Senate office, and overall treated us very well.
Contrary to the second-hand reports in the article, he acknowledged our good work and said “you did a helluva job today.” Senate staff work long and hard hours, and the Senator would treat us often to dinners and beers when we worked late.
He held as staff party every year where he picked up the tab personally each time. He attended our weddings and celebrated the birth of our children with gifts – he is an incredibly thoughtful person.
Bottom line is he appreciated his staff very much and took nothing for granted. The day I left his office I told him I bet I’d never have such a rewarding job, and it’s it true today.
You may disagree with Hagel’s political positions or his public actions in past years. But these comments about the way he treated staff are contrary to anything we have heard before.